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Manga Review

Book Cover

D. Gray-Man
Volume 1


Author: Katsura Hoshino
Artist: Katsura Hoshino
Viz Media
RRP: £5.99, US $7.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 4215 0623 4
ISBN-10: 1 4215 0623 8
Ages: T+ (For older teens)
Available 05 May 2008

In a fictional 19th Century Britain, Allen Walker plies his trade as an exorcist, searching the earth to find, protect and collect Innocence - the only substance that can create anti-Akuma weapons. The Akuma are living weapons created from the souls of the recently deceased, created and controlled by The Millennium Earl, whose sole purpose is the complete elimination of all life on Earth...

D. Gray-Man: Volume One - Opening sees the start of a new manga series by Katsura Hoshino. Originally serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump, the manga has spawned an anime show that started in 2006, which if it is half as good as the manga will be worth tracking down. It also spawned a couple of CD soundtracks, I’m assuming from the anime, and a DS game.

The first thing that you notice about the book is just how much the artwork stands out from the competition. Although there are the usual manga motifs, characters with impossibly big hair, the whole world appears to be populated by attractive people who are all under the age of twenty. However there is a nice injection of the weird, especially in the depiction of the bad guys, that is reminiscent of Jamie Hewlett’s graphics for Tank Girl.

The book opens on, what I assume is, an incident in Allen’s future when he is a fully fledged exorcist. As soon as the first chapter ends were back to the inevitable origins part of the story, where Allen leaves his mentor to join The Black Order - a clandestine group of exorcists dedicated to fighting The Millennium Earl. The next set of chapters chronicles his journey to, and final admission into, The Order.

I have to say it’s been a long time since I enjoyed a manga so much; D. Gray is strong on characterisation and story. The narrative takes its time and the book isn’t full of twenty page chunks of endless fight scenes. The mythology behind the Innocence and the role it plays in the ongoing conflict is both dense and well thought out.

So, if your bored of endless poor excuses for story telling, you could do a lot worse than pick up the first volume of D. Gray-Man... And no, I have no idea what the title means, yet.


Charles Packer

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